…ground flaxseeds. Rather a couple of tablespoons worth. I have been eating daily, for almost 10 years now…
That’s almost a whopping 3,650 days of healthy! Fiber… I know, big yawn, but our little golden seeds are packed with nutrients and benefits so rich, I just can’t overlook them. These little powerhouses provide unparalleled health benefits, and are easy to incorporate into your daily routine and recipes.
Flax seeds are derived from an annual plant, native to Canadian & US prairies. Flax has been used by humans for over 4000 years, making them one of the first domesticated plants. They are distinguishable by a true, light blue flower and are more formerly called Linum usitatissimum, say what? Well, it refers to ‘linen’ and indeed they are not only nutritionally valuable, but the plant fibers are also widely used to make linens, like boat sails. Since I won’t be purchasing a sail boat anytime soon, let’s just focus on why we should eat them!
Flax seeds are very unique in the following nutritional ways:
- Flax is the # 1 richest plant source if the Omega-3 Fatty Acids known as Alpha-linolenic Acid (ALA), which are clinically shown to help prevent heart disease, other inflammatory diseases, diabetes, and some cancers. ALA also gets the rap for assisting nutrient permeation into our cells and expelling toxins. Since Omega-3 Fatty Acids like ALA aren’t naturally occurring within our bodies, we have to source them from fish and plants, like flax. According to the American Heart Association, diets rich in the ALA found in flax have been associated with up to a 70% reduction in coronary heart disease. Oh, but it gets better…
- Flax is an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. And it probably comes as no shock that we all need to eat more fiber for our digestive health and disease prevention. In fact, the American Cancer Society has reported that diets rich in fiber are proven to help protect against GI cancers, especially colon. Consuming Omega-3’s is also important to balance consumption of Omega-6 fatty acids, the ‘bad’ cholesterol.
- Speaking of GI health, flax is an odd duckling when it comes to it’s fiber content. Ground flax seeds contain mucilage, which is a unique water-soluble, gel-forming fiber that supports and coats the intestinal tract, and improves nutrient absorption. Who knew?! Well, I did, but now you do too!
- Can it really do more? Oh yes, it can. When I think of rich antioxidant sources I opt for colorful fruits and veggies, but flax seeds just so happen to be the number one source of a polyphenol antioxidants known as lignans. These are specifically valuable in preventing free radical cell damage and tumor formation as they are involved in natural hormone regulation. This has been shown to be especially important in women’s health, by helping to prevent breast cancer and off-setting menopause symptoms. As published in Clinical Cancer Research, a study group of women recently diagnosed with breast cancer, began consuming 2 T of flax seeds daily, and results showed significant tumor growth reduction in the flax-consuming group.
…and the list goes on, so I can really say these seeds do no wrong! You can eat them whole, though it is very important and preferable to grind them. Since they have a tough exterior shell, much of the nutrients aren’t released by simply chewing, so to the coffee bean grinder we go! It’s as easy as dialing-up the fine grind setting and pulsing a few tablespoons of seeds for a minute or less. You can also toast them lightly to crack the coat, which is another good option. Then store the ground flax and seeds in your fridge. Seeds contain flax oil, which will spoil similarly to nuts and other plant seeds.
How do we get these little golden gems into our daily diets? Piece of cake! Well, literally… Baking with flax is one easy way, by adding the seeds whole or ground into muffins and cakes and to their toppings. Also, I use the seeds and ground version both in my homemade granola…it’s delicious! Golden flax specifically has a mildly nutty and sweet taste that goes well in baked goods. I prefer golden over the black seeds simply due to taste.
Since I am not making banana bread each morning, I get my daily flax either by using to top yogurt or kefir, adding to my daily green super drink, or simply sprinkling over my cereal…and it won’t hurt your Frosted Mini Wheats any, trust me! (Though, if you let flax sit in liquid too long, it will become somewhat cement-like, so eat up!)
To maximize flax benefits, the daily recommended value is 2 tablespoons, though I will caution to introduce flax into your diet at a much smaller daily dose (like a teaspoon) and gradually work up. It is a lot of fiber and if you’re not used to having that much soluble & insoluble in one, specifically ground form…it can be a jarring to the system. Our recommended 2T gives us an impressive 133% DV of Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Our ALA), 17.5% manganese, and 15% DV of fiber and Vitamin B1. Now that’s just a bonus!
I buy my golden seeds at a local Sprouts market in the bulk bin section; they are very inexpensive luckily. I prefer to buy the seeds and grind them myself, so the oil is freshly extracted each time I have it. I also find the pre-ground bags of flax seeds to be too coarse and not as palatable, as I can achieve by finely grinding them in my coffee bean grinder.
Definitely notice I feel better when I eat flax daily. I’ve tested stopping for bouts of time, and do notice a difference. As per the disease preventative benefits, I can’t be certain, but I’m not going to risk it! If I could only stick to one healthy habit, flax my friends, is my numero uno! Try some out on your next bowl of yogurt or oatmeal for a healthy boost…